In March, the Missouri State Senate started hearings for “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would block trans girls from competing on girls and women’s sports teams starting in middle school. When 14-year-old Avery Jackson, who identifies as trans and non-binary, appeared in person to fight back against the bill, one Senator decided to instigate a completely inappropriate and off-topic line of questioning about bathroom use.
“You’re in the ladies room and then you realize someone else is in there that doesn’t have a female’s — has a male body instead of a female’s body. I mean, it just causes some issues there,” Sen. Elaine Gannon told Jackson.
Jackson responded with a simple: “No it doesn’t. You should let people go to the bathroom.” Sen. Gannon continued to press on with her argument. “Well, they probably don’t realize because you have such long hair,” she said. “Are you going to go through the procedure?” The senator, it seems, was referring to gender-affirming surgery, which is typically not allowed until a teen turns 18.
Jackson ignored that invasive question and offered a counterargument. “You think we’re going around forcing our genitalia in people’s faces. We’re trying to go to the bathroom.”
Gannon told Jackson that she was “just curious.” It’s then that Jackson’s mom, Debi, stepped in and explained to the senator just how wrong it is to ask something like that. Then, she offered a powerful rebuttal to the bathroom question.
“You’re asking a 14-year-old on public record about genitals and if people would see that,” she said. “Kids aren’t going around exposing themselves. Kids want to play sports with their friends. That’s what this bill is. And getting wrapped up in genitals in bathrooms gets us so far away from that, and it dehumanizes our children. My child is so much more than genitals. And that’s what I need you to see.”
The bill was passed through the Senate education committee in March. State Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, offered a blistering statement in response. “It’s about children who want to participate in sports with their friends, and that is what our political rhetoric has developed into and it’s really disturbing. It’s disheartening,” Razer said.
Jackson, meanwhile, appeared unsurprised that the hearing was railroaded by questions about bathroom use. The teen told VICE that “it was never about” sports. “They really still—after all this time—wanted to go back to: ‘You want to go in the right bathroom? Nah.’”
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